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What is EMR (electronic medical record)?

What-is-EMR

As we are now in the digital age, developing systems that utilize technology should be part of the internal operations of every company or organization.

It’s not that “gone are the olden days,” but we have to maximize the tools and technology that are present and are globally used to have a more systematic communication, record, and operation in all fields.

Just like the medical field, most health institutions are now adapting to digital systems.

And one of the most accepted and more widely used today is the EMR. 

EMR is short for Electronic Medical Records.

In definition, an EMR is basically a digitalized version of a patient’s chart.

All information that you’ll find for a patient: medical history, laboratory test, doctor’s diagnoses, medications, immunization dates, allergies, and other doctor’s notes are all found in this paperless system.

EMR is an online medical record that’s provided by authorized personnel for diagnosis and treatment.

All clinical data are from that particular provider.

Through this new digital system, the EMR presents comprehensive data of the patient’s records and an accurate profile of the patient which ensures customer care throughout the process.

Besides going paperless, EMR is a step ahead for a smoother flow of communication among healthcare teams and institutions.

The EMR streamlines that communication system by allowing clearer coordination between authorized personnel and departments in need of the patient’s records.

Medical records started to evolve back in the 60’s when people began to see the problem of the paper-based system – which is still used by other health institutions right now across the world especially in third-world countries.

However, as technology advanced and the computer era began, more hospitals have adapted to this.

As decades pass and computers became more accessible to the public, more clinics and hospitals were utilizing the computers and it became more attractive to the general public.

So much more with the arrival of the internet; people were slowly adapting to the change and so the internet became the primary tool for communication.

This also goes for profiling patient’s records and transferring them.

By the year 2014, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was passed that required all public and private hospitals and healthcare institutions to demonstrate meaningful use of EMRs.

By meaningful use, the ministry of health of the government defines it as:

  • Improve quality, safety, efficiency
  • Communicates and coordinates with patients and families
  • Improve patient care and public health
  • Security of private information of patient’s medical records

With the EMRs, patient’s data on their medical records have never been more comprehensive and accessible than before.

However, with technology and the online platform still reinventing itself, there is a need for continual refinement on the system to better the clinical workflow and doctor’s interaction with the patient.

What is the difference between EMR and EHR?

When we began this article, we defined EMR as the electronic medical record that provides all medical records of a patient in just one health institution.

On the other hand, an EHR, also known as an electronic health record, contains the same data but can be transferred and communicated to other authorized medical providers, organizations, and clinics.

An EHR is also an in-depth and extensive medical record of the patient history that can be shared with the different health institutions to provide more detailed information of the patient, which can ensure better care for the patient.

Both EMRs and EHRs are essential tools used in medical institutions nowadays and it’s important to know their main differences.

Aside from this, an EMR also has other distinct differences compared to an EHR.

We’ve mentioned that an EMR is a digital record of a patient’s medical chart while an EHR contains all the patient’s records and health history.

In addition, an EHR can be shared across different medical providers, unlike an EMR.

More importantly, an EMR is mainly used by a single medical providers for diagnosis and patient treatment and care.

On the flip side, an EHR can be accessible by other health institutions for decision-making from doctors and diagnosis.

While there is a clear difference between both systems, both are equally necessary as they ensure patient care, especially for emergency needs.

What are the Benefits of an EMR?

Because EMR is a digital version of medical records and is a paperless system, there are countless benefits to this when adapted into the operational system.

  • Lesser human error for medical records
  • Quicker assessment from health professionals
  • Comprehensive data with an updated tracking system
  • Improved diagnosis and patient care
  • Excellent profiling of patients who need more doctor visits
  • Better security system for private information
  • Quicker decision-making situations involved due to the presence of evidence
  • Scheduling system for follow-up visits and self-care instructions
  • Accessibility of patient records with information of health conditions and lifestyle changes to improve their health

For clinics, an EMR is also a breakthrough for compelling reasons such as:

  • Maximizing space by slowly putting away paper-based records that take much room for storage
  • Smoother workflow with a gradual increase of patients attended each day
  • Saving overhead expenses and administrative challenges
  • Easy user interface for usage in hospitals, clinics, and other medical providers
  • Accessibility of patient health records
  • Faster analysis and diagnostic performance after gathering and analyzing patient’s data
  • Provides notifications and clinical alerts 
  • Improved documentation system and coding
  • Improved research capabilities within the health facility
  • Provides safeguarding protocols especially against improper prescription and treatments to patients
  • Easy tracking of communication through electronic messages to health personnel, labs, clinics, and other authorized medical practitioners
  • Linkage to the public healthcare system and general public information

Above the cited reasons, an EMR also has its financial advantages that save up money for medical providers from their operational costs.

Because of this online system, there’s more organization and efficiency in a workflow that results in a cut in operational expenses and even labor costs. 

The downside of an EMR is not found in the system in itself but the amount of investment the health provider needs to make in the initial that includes preparation and training to use the system.

Over time, health providers would see the financial benefits of this rather than not adapting to it.

Conclusion

With more and more EMR software being developed and more clinics utilizing these online systems, the best thing to do is try out the different companies.

Most, if not all, offer a trial period that is either free or for a very low “trial period” amount.

This would be the best time to test if a certain EMR software is perfect for your needs.

The best EMR software for most clinics would be if its cloud-based functionality releases you from having to manage both hardware and perpetually update software.

Another function that would be very useful in this day and age is if the EMR can be accessed through the use of mobile phones – whether through an iOS system or an android phone which saves up space from additional computer hardware in the clinics.

For the user interface, the software should  provide an easy-to-navigate use of the EMR that allows the staff to easily check in the patient’s health records including their medical history, laboratory results, and diagnosis by the doctors.

Patient’s information can be quickly shared as well with other authorized health personnel even if they’re using a different EMR software.

Aside from this, the EMR should have an online tool that allows clinics to book appointments, visits, follow-ups, billing statements, and direct messages at ease and convenience.

Most EMRs also have an educational resource that compiles overall health information to learn more about a health condition and its diagnosis.

The last thing to check is if the EMR software is certified and approved by national regulations thus ensuring the safety and security of private data and information.

This is a very critical piece because privacy, not just physical safety, should be a major factor.

To find the right EMR Software for your practice, checkout our review of the Best EMR Electronic Medical Records Software.

About the author

Katie Brownley

Health & IT Journalist covering Cybersecurity News, Data Breaches and Security Industry News. Email is open for DM and News Tips are Welcome

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